Posted by: Dr Churchill | May 6, 2011

Follow the money trail to find the best politicians a little oil can buy

Congress lost a grand opportunity for creating a level playing field for renewable energy sources and mature energy to compete on. It also lost the last opportunity it had in this Congressional composition to create energy source neutrality, tax and incentive equanimity, foster energetic innovation, create green tech jobs, reduce the deficit and push forward economic growth & progress.

All this, because the House Republicans today voted in unison for a motion to keep all the big oil subsidies from the federal budget, in place, intact and undiminished.

Well done boys. How about giving them some champagne, caviar & cake to go with it?

Like the house Cheshire cats of their oily funders who keep them warm at night, these erstwhile Republicans kicked the legs out from a motion that would have chopped a single – just one – of those key subsidies. And despite angry statements and bellicose pronouncements in the past week from Speaker John Boehner and tax-and-program slasher Paul Ryan and Rand Paul and all Republican crown contenders, that oil companies should pay taxes and their subsidies should be getting the ax — every single Republican voted for the motion, along with a handful of Democrats.

Now if you were wondering how this crime can be taking place inside the Capitol; the explanation is simple…

They voted this way following the silver pieces dropped from their pay masters to fill their thirty silver coins pouch.

Because the Congress members that voted to continue the subsidies for the big oil companies, received more than $8.7 million in campaign contributions from oil and gas interests in 2010 alone…

And those seven Democrats who jumped ship and voted with them?

Well — they also received huge donations from the oil companies.

All of the US House members who defeated the measure to begin debate on legislation and examine if it were proper to end certain subsidies for oil companies received five times more in campaign contributions, on average, from the oil and gas industry in the 2010 election cycle than those who voted to proceed with the motion, according to campaign watchdog Public Campaign Action Fund.

And it was a clearly a personal pocket-book ideological divide that proved once again, how hollow of integrity, the tea party lovers are. Because yesterday, the Congress House Democrats who tried to pass the motion that would allow a vote on the provision to end certain subsidies to oil companies; were defeated 241-171, with just seven of their Democratic colleagues joining with the Republicans to oppose the measure. Those Republicans like Paul Ryan and Rand Paul and even Sarah (crazy moose) Palin who doth protest too much, about big government spending, but when the time comes to cut some of the funding from the most profitable companies in the world, the oil majors, they balk at the mere suggestion of it.

“Americans are struggling with the high cost of filling their gas tanks, but some members of Congress seemed only concerned with their Big Oil donors,” said David Donnelly, national campaigns director for Public Campaign Action Fund.

According to the analysis of data from political contributions of the Center for Responsive Politics:

  • House members who voted to continue the subsidies received, on average, five times more money in 2010 from oil and gas interests. Those voting to block debate received $36,066, on average, in campaign contributions from oil and gas interests. Those who voted to begin debate received, on average, $7,192 in campaign contributions from the industry.
  • Overall, members that voted to continue the subsidies received more than $8.7 million in campaign contributions from oil and gas interests in 2010 while those opposed raised just $1.2 million.
  • 16 of the 18 U.S. House members that received over $100,000 in campaign contributions from the industry in 2010 voted to block debate. One voted to proceed and a second did not vote.
Name Party, State Vote Oil and Gas Money
Pearce, Steve R-NM Yea $309,420
Pompeo, Mike R-KS Yea $250,156
Boren, Dan D-OK Yea $225,550
Flores, William R-TX Yea $212,528
Gardner, Cory R-CO Yea $171,324
Barton, Joe R-TX Yea $161,870
Landry, Jeffrey M R-LA Yea $158,050
Ross, Mike D-AR Nay $156,950
Fleming, John R-LA Yea $150,100
Conaway, Mike R-TX Yea $144,050
Boehner, John R-OH Yea $139,150
Sullivan, John R-OK Yea $131,300
Griffin, Tim R-AR Yea $126,959
Cantor, Eric R-VA NV $120,300
Lankford, James R-OK Yea $119,960
Berg, Rick R-ND Yea $114,311
Boustany, Charles R-LA Yea $113,900
Upton, Fred R-MI Yea $100,700

The five largest U.S. oil companies—Exxon, Conoco Phillips, BP, Shell, and Chevron—made over $30 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2011, yet they continue to get generous government subsidies and tax breaks. Today’s House vote would’ve ended these unnecessary handouts.

But it wasn’t meant to pass…

“Voting to keep these wasteful subsidies for oil companies might be good for campaign bank accounts, but it won’t solve our deficit,” said Donnelly. “Members of Congress should be standing with their constituents instead of their big oil donors.”

Permanent subsidies for oil companies, don’t create jobs and certainly do not sharpen the competitive edges of these companies. Instead, they distort markets and kill any appetite for energy innovation.
Subsidies for oil and gas production have long — about a century long — been considered a way to ensure increased production and stable gasoline prices for an expanding economy. But given the fact that oil companies are just like war profiteers today, the system doesn’t work. Because if you think the subsidy scheme still works, You need to just look at the current price of gasoline in your neighborhood today. Do this and then tell me how is it working for you.

Oil is a global commodity and the $120 price per barrel is enough incentive to encourage investors to find the damn stuff deep underground, or under the sea or even in space – if need be.

Still the Congressional politics are a nest of yellow jackets to the uninitiated…
Because obviously, the Democrats wanted the motion so that they could bring up a bill penned by Rep. Tim Bishop (NY-01) to repeal the Section 199 domestic manufacturing tax credit for the five largest oil companies. The provision, part of a 2004 law meant to promote domestic production, allows corporations to reduce their taxable income by 9 percent under prescribed circumstances.

Although Democrats knew from the outset that there was no chance they would win on the procedural motion, they had hoped to get Republicans on the record at a time when American consumers are unhappy over rising gas prices and rising oil-company profits. On that front, they succeeded. So politicking wins over substance and decency…

Republicans on the other hand,  claim Bishop’s move was merely a political gimmick and not serious legislation—a technique they, of course, would never stoop to—and that they will consider cutting oil company subsidies as part of overall tax reform. In fact, Bishop’s proposal is part of very serious and much-needed legislation that would eliminate not only the domestic manufacturing tax credit for the biggest oil companies but hit other subsidies as well.

If the tax credit repeal were to have passed, Bishop estimates it would generate $12 billion in federal revenue over the next decade, helping to bring down the US deficit.

Yesterday’s vote allowed the Republicans to move ahead with a three-item drill-baby-drill legislative package that would, among other things, speed up leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and open up new leases off the coast of Virginia.

All three bills are certain to pass the House and may pass the Senate as well even though they will likely have a harder go of it there.

The situation is very similar as far as protection f oil company subsidies goes, in old Blightey.

The UK conservative coalition government is acting along the very same lines… maintaining the old oil company subsidies and their favourable tax treatment status.

Significantly the oil companies make bumper profits while paying no taxes whatsoever…

In other and completely unrelated news the dog keeps licking his balls…

Why?

Because he can.

Yours,

Pano

PS:

Meanwhile, the prospect of a real energy package, a fact-based, far-sighted proposal that takes into account climate change and dwindling resources is about as far away as it’s been since November 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected and redirected U.S. energy policy away from Jimmy Carter’s imperfect but visionary plans.

The energy conversation has to be part of the national conversation about the larger economic mess we are in. Talking about climate change may be not resonating at all politically today, yet talking about the insanity of our tax system and the crazy stuff we spend money on like wars for oil, and simultaneous aid to oil companies, and foreign aid for oil dictators, and tax breaks for their oil companies – methinks – will resonate with all the American families.

The clock keeps ticking.

And our leaders plug their ears and keep singing la-la-la.

Yet they forget, the old saw:

The loftier they think they are — their pride is the locust — the harder they fall…


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